Traveling to MilanMilan - Hidden Gems
Behind the unassuming buildings and nondescript neighborhoods lies a secret city of the finest dining, gorgeous hotels and some of the best shopping in the world. For world travelers, Milan is a hub where you can access the neighboring Swiss ski resorts, the South of France and Northern Italia. Milano is not your typical cookie-cutter airport city though; it is the perfect weekend getaway, or the perfect excuse for an overnight layover. Milan is a city of sophistication; it is the girl you may overlook at first glance, but with whom you will find yourself engaged in unexpected conversation well into the night. For the working jet set always on the go, you can be decadent and have a guilt-free galavante of luxe hotels, shopping and eating your way through the weekend. You will find it difficult to tear yourself away from the Bulgari Hotel, with its chic atmosphere, modern yet comfortable rooms and gorgeous common spaces.
With its five-star spa—which is the destination for many local Milanese—and its glamorous restaurant, a can’t miss for both the food and people watching, you technically don’t ever have to leave. For those who want to maximize their hotel points, the Park Hyatt is a formidable opponent, with luxurious baths, a newly renovated spa and some of the most gracious service in Milan. And this is even if you are using your points to pay for your 600 Euro/night room. The Park Hyatt is the fashionista hotel with working jet set clientele, and is in a primo locale next to the stunning Galleria.
No matter where you stay, begin your day at Sant Ambroeus for morning coffee and pastries. New York is lucky to have several outposts of this iconic café, but nothing beats the original. As you begin to explore, you will be challenged to find a more fashionably attired crowd anywhere in the world, in a city where shopping is quite the sport. Even for those adverse to shopping malls, it’s hard not to be awed by the Galleria, one of the most impressive architectural structures in Europe. You can buy your Prada anywhere, but the unique and diverse selections in Milan will make you the envy of even the most hardened fashionistas. Your must-see thoroughfares are the Via Sant’Andrea, Villa della Spiga and Villa Montenapoleone. While you can go to Milan anytime of the year, the sales in the January and August timeframe are unrivaled. To fortify you after a rigorous shopping excursion, Bistrot Giacomo is a Milanese treasure, hidden behind a discreet façade. As you can’t judge a book by its cover, inside you will find glorious food, gorgeous locals and perhaps even George Clooney with his latest Italian fling.
After a strenuous lunch, you won’t be lacking for culture with the Duomo, the Castello Sforzesco and the Teatro alla Scalla — Milan’s world renowned Opera House — which for many is a lifetime experience and an occasion to get dressed to the nines. For dinner Milanese style, if you save the Bulgari for another night, head to Osteria dei Binari, for traditional risottos, osso bucco in a lively and chic yet authentic atmosphere. Late night drinks can be had at Siddharta, where you will remark how easy it is to enjoy Milano. The great thing about Milan is that there’s no pressing need to rise early, no frenzied tourist circuit. It’s guilt-free sleeping in, late breakfast at the Park Hyatt’s brunch or the Armani Café which has surprisingly outstanding food, followed by yet more shopping. You can even fit in a spa day and some well-earned relaxation. Milan is center to many side trips, including Bergamo, where on a Sunday some shops will be open. Bergamo is the city where the slow-food movement was born, and at 45 minutes outside of Milan, is a worthwhile galavante to meander the streets and eat at Colleoni dell’Angelo, which has some of the most beautifully presented food and a cheese cart that is absolutely unrivaled. Standouts are the branzino and truffle flan. A magical meal, and not because of the mushrooms, should be followed by drinks into the night at the bar at the Bulgari, where although you’ll be stuffed you’ll be hard-pressed to pass up the snacks they generously bring as well as the addictive flat bread they’ll indulge you with if you ask oh so nicely. The verdict is that Milano is an acquired taste, but one that will have you hooked.